Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Today is the LAST DAY of this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

TODAY is the last day to meet our goal -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year.

Former U.S. Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a campaign kickoff rally, May 18, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Since Biden announced his candidacy in late April, he has taken the top spot in all polls of the sprawling Democratic primary field. Biden's rally on Saturday was his first large-scale campaign rally after doing smaller events in Iowa and New Hampshire in the past few weeks. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Neoliberalism Is Dead—But the Neoliberal Elite Didn’t Get the Memo

At a time when neoliberalism is all but dead, Democrats and the corporate media are pushing Joe Biden, a neoliberal with a track record of supporting corporations and financial interests above the people's interests

John Atcheson

The evidence keeps piling up. Neoliberalism is dead.

Just look at the record. Trump—a cross between a carney barker and a conman—beat a neoliberal in 2016. Right-wing populists have scored big in Austria, Italy, Britain, and Brazil since then.  Just recently, Australia’s right-of-center Labor coalition won their election. And in the European Union’s latest contest, Greens won big while right-wing parties made gains in some areas.  All these victories came at the expense of neoliberal centrists.

Bottom line: Across the world, people are finally wising up to the fact that neoliberalism has failed them economically, politically, and environmentally. In fact, the climate crisis—an existential threat to human civilization—is a direct result of the global neoliberal juggernaut that has swept the developed world.  So are the record levels of income and wealth disparity, and the subversion of democracy by a powerful oligarchy—particularly in the US.

The only folks who didn’t get the memo on this appears to be the neoliberal mafia that runs the Democratic Party and the mainstream media here in the US.

At a time when neoliberalism is all but dead, Democrats and the mainstream media are pushing Joe Biden, a neoliberal with a track record of supporting corporations and financial interests above the people’s interests; a man who’s backed by PACs; a man whose small-bore response to the climate crisis amounts to mass genocide for people and the species we share the planet with.

According to The Hill’s media reporter, Joe Concha, Biden is getting more media coverage than all the other Democratic candidates combined, and the month after he announced, in one week alone, Biden was mentioned 1400 times, to 400 for Sanders, who is running second in the polls.  This kind of backing by the party and the press is reminiscent of how they treated Hillary Clinton in 2016, and the results will probably be the same.  It’s hard for a true progressive candidate to compete when the majority of the liberal infrastructure—academia, think tanks, not-for-profits, the press, Wall Street, banks and wealthy backers—line up behind a candidate.

But with people awakening to the consequences of neoliberalism, Biden is the wrong man at the wrong time.

Ryan Cooper summed up his record succinctly, here:

His economic policy career has been one disgrace after the next — sponsoring or voting for multiple rounds of financial deregulation, trade deals that savaged the American manufacturing base, and bankruptcy "reform" that made it much harder to discharge consumer debt (and nearly impossible to get rid of student debt).

Remember Clinton’s rational about “evolving” on issues as she attempted to veer leftward in 2016?  Well, Biden will have to do more than evolve—he’ll have to shed his entire skin like a snake in August. Trump will have a field day running against him.

Meanwhile, Pelosi, Schumer, Hoyer and crew are spewing centrist Pablum about capitalism and the power of free markets; they’re embracing austerity (remember Paygo, their very first initiative?); they’re preaching the gospel of small government and small bore policies; they’re eschewing the idea of a bold platform based on sweeping programs designed to meet the immense challenges facing us; they’re refusing to do what must be done to salvage a future worth living for our children and those yet to be borne.

Their entire strategy seems to center on showing everyone how bad Trump is, and the central debate within the party is whether to impeach or not.

People are tired of bickering, however justified.  Impeach or not, Democrats will have to develop a values-based platform that addresses the ills of their neoliberal past if they want to win.  If they don’t do this—and so far, the leadership is fighting hard to avoid doing it—voter turnout will be less than 60 percent, a number that would guarantee a Republican victory. The more they embrace their neoliberal past, the lower the turnout will be; embracing a candidate like Biden or some other centrist will also drive turnout lower.

And yet here they are—holding fast to the philosophy, policies and candidates that turned them into a minority party, even as the world sends them lesson after lesson.

And this is how Trump will win.  The 2020 election will be all about turnout, just as the 2016 election was.  And as I said in the years leading up to 2016, Hillary Clinton would depress turnout and that would enable a Republican victory—even if they ran a buffoon.

Now the Democrats are gearing up for an instant replay, complete with the inevitable surprised forehead slaps and embarrassed pundits asking, on November 4, 2020 “How could this have happened, again?”

How, indeed.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
John Atcheson

John Atcheson

John Atcheson, 1948-2020, was a long-time Common Dreams contributor, climate activist and author of, "A Being Darkly Wise, and a book on our fractured political landscape entitled, "WTF, America? How the US Went Off the Rails and How to Get It Back On Track". John was tragically killed in a California car accident in January 2020.

TODAY is the last day of our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Texas Supreme Court Allows Century-Old Abortion Ban to Take Effect

"Extremist politicians are on a crusade to force Texans into pregnancy and childbirth against their will, no matter how devastating the consequences."

Jake Johnson ·


'What's There to Even Discuss?' Omar Says Free, Universal School Meals Should Be Permanent

"We have an opportunity to prove that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people can still deliver big things. And we can feed tens of millions of hungry kids while we do it."

Jake Johnson ·


'Stark Betrayal': Biden Administration Floats New Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

"This is the third time since November the Biden administration has announced new oil and gas leasing plans on the Friday before a holiday," said one climate advocate. "They're ashamed, and they should be."

Jake Johnson ·


As US Rolls Back Reproductive Rights, Sierra Leone Moves to Decriminalize Abortion

"I'm hopeful today's announcement gives activists in the U.S., and especially Black women given the shared history, a restored faith that change is possible and progress can be made."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Indefensible': Outrage as New Reporting Shines Light on Biden Deal With McConnell

The president has reportedly agreed to nominate an anti-abortion Republican to a lifetime judgeship. In exchange, McConnell has vowed to stop blocking two Biden picks for term-limited U.S. attorney posts.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo